Podcast: Creating a winning brand positioning statement

By Alexander Evjenth

Podcast: Creating a winning brand positioning statement

A while ago, I read an email where Anders discussed brand positioning statements with a client. So I thought this could be an excellent topic for the Onlinification Pod. It was a fun episode, and I hope you enjoy it.

Whether you're creating a new brand or updating an existing one, the brand positioning statement will shape the foundation of your work. It is the most important message about the company and the offering.

In our discussion, we speak about:

  • What is a brand positioning statement?
  • What do you need to consider when creating branding position statements?
  • What are the main mistakes companies make when formulating a brand positioning statement?
  • What is a good approach to gathering and sharing definitions?

Explore our digital definitions page that Anders mentions in this episode, and use these definitions as the basis to build your own internal digital and online marketing definitions for common terms and expressions.

Links to The Onlinification Pod on the podcast platforms can be found below. 

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AE: [00:00:00] Hi, and welcome to the Onlinification Pod, a podcast produced by Zooma. I'm Alex, your host. In this episode, I got the chance to sit down with Anders to talk about values and position statements. It was a fun episode, and I really hope you enjoy this. So now it's time to roll the jingle.

AE: [00:00:29] Hello, Anders.

AB: [00:00:31] Hello, Alexander.

AE: [00:00:40] How are you?

AB: [00:00:43] I'm very well, thank you. Are you in a pod?

AE: [00:00:46] I'm in a pod.

AB: [00:00:49] Double up in a pod. Right. Can you explain to me how it can be doubled up in a pod?

AE: [00:00:55] Yeah, I'm actually in the office. And today, we are many people in the office for the first time since the pandemic. So now we really get to utilise these pods which have been installed here during the pandemic. Yeah, we have four, or three pods, right? Yeah, three. And it's like, a sure box which is quiet and very convenient to sit and record a pod in.

AB: [00:01:28] And it's a really good pod. It's from Framery. Yeah. Pods from Switzerland. Alexander, imagine now when people sit and listen to this pod or even view it, and you and I record a pod, and you are in a pod. Interesting.

AE: [00:01:41] Yeah. Very, very meta. So this is the first episode with you, Anders, that I have as a host since I came back from parental leave. So very nice to have you as a guest here.

AB: [00:01:59] Very nice to be a guest. Both Jeff and I have really been longing for you to come back.

AE: [00:02:04] Oh, that's nice to hear. I heard an episode with you and Doug, and I heard it was some discussion there. Who was the most appreciated host? But yeah, let's not talk more about that, and I'll do my best here.

AB: [00:02:22] Same with me.

AE: [00:02:22] So the topics for these podcasts often come, the ideas often come from internal emails and so on. And a while ago, I read an email that you were discussing value proposition and positioning statement with the client. So I thought today we could talk around that topic if that's okay with you.

AB: [00:02:48] Yeah. It's interesting that you read my emails.

AE: [00:02:52] Yeah.

AB: [00:02:58] We're not going to go down there.

AE: [00:03:01] No. So the first question, what is a positioning statement?

AB: [00:03:07] If you and I know what Google positioning statement or brand positioning statement and if we would do it with the purpose of, okay, we're going to create one, then I think it's important that the full view, if you're going to do a branding foundation or a branding strategy and you're already here, okay, so what is what you need to internally within a company decide what everything you put as a header means. So in my world, if you're about to do a brand profile, a brand profile needs a brand positioning, the brand core values, the brand positioning statement, the brand vision, the brand personality and the brand mission. And I mean, already now it can start to get a bit blurry because there's a lot of people who sort of discussing, okay, what's the difference between a vision and a mission and what's the sort of difference between the statement and the mission, etc.? So I think a key when you create steering documents or foundations is that you decide, one, what it means, two, what it should include, and most importantly, three, what shall we use this for? So if we, for example, have three core values, let's say that they decide that the core values this who have a company is no challenge and create. Okay, what should we have those four, and how should we use them? And should there be a difference between what we internally need to do to be perceived as knowledgeable, challenging and creative from the outside or whatever it is? Long answer I'm going to answer. In my world, a brand positioning statement for every company is the most important message about the offering and, therefore about ourselves. That's the brand positioning statement. But you can't create the brand positioning statement until you have decided on the brand positioning which in my world always is the wished-for position for the company, the brand and it must be, shall be, should be unique and distinctive versus the identified competitors. So first the wished-for position, and then the most important message, which I think the positioning statement is. Sometimes companies tend to use the brand positioning statement as the tagline as well, but that isn't a must, and that's not always a recommendation either.

AE: [00:06:10] So can you walk us through how a process looked like when you began? I know you've been involved in creating several brand positioning for clients. So typically, how does that project look like? What do you need to consider, and what are the steps?

AB: [00:06:32] I have never been involved just creating that. I'm often involved and Zooma is involved in doing the whole 'Chittabang'. So I would say often companies have an experience of whatever it comes to when it comes to brand they have 47 slides in a PDF that no one reads. We think at Zooma that it's really important to do this work and other things. Firstly on a one-pager, meaning that you see everything at the same time and that you start the work by defining each header. You define what brand positioning means or brand vision, or brand personality. You define or do an outline of a first draft or a garbage draft or whatever you want to call it. And then you clearly think through, okay, when, when this exists, how do we use it and how does it dance together with all the other things that we decide? So that is one thing when it comes to the approach. The other thing is make sure that you involve a lot of stakeholders, definitely the management team or the executive management of a global management team or whatever they are referred to. Do not do this just with marketing or with branding.

AE: [00:08:07] Why is that so important?

AB: [00:08:09] Because you won't get any buy-in and you won't get sort of a good start of the implementation of it if you don't involve the right and the wrong people. When I say the wrong people, I love to involve people who are naysayers and who are usually sort of very skeptic. If you can make them understand, you can make everyone understands. So it's important to have people in the beginning, they are a bit skeptic to this and then. Keep up the speed. Do this in an iterative way. Test it on different stakeholders internally. You can test it on externals. You need to know a lot about how we are perceived and positioned today. You could you can speak to customers about it both pre during and post that you create it, especially when you have a straightforward and good relationship with the customers, you can involve them as well.

AE: [00:09:18] What do you think are the main mistakes companies do when trying to formulate a brand positioning?

AB: [00:09:26] I think two things. One is outsourcing the brand strategy, meaning that you ask an agency in a 6 agency company brief and they do a pitch and then you let them work for 6 to 12 months on something that becomes a long pdf. The other thing is that you underestimate the value of what you decide here, meaning that you forget to do the implementation plan and the nurturing plan, that you forget to help and train the leadership in walking the talk and that you actually involve people in breaking this down in workgroups and breaking it down to an individual level. I usually say, let's call the brand 'x', then the first step is 'this is x' and then it's 'we are x', and then it's 'I am x' and I am certain that to make 'I am x' happen, you need to use the core values as a basis for the 1-to-1 talks you have in a company, whether you have it once a year or every month, you need to put it in and you need to start in some way measuring and following up with your colleagues based on if you decide that is the right thing, perhaps the core values.

AE: [00:11:04] How do you communicate to the individuals?

AB: [00:11:12] Firstly, they need to be involved. It needs to be explained. You need to give possibilities to understand how the company came to these six, seven things or whatever it is. You need to give them a lot of possibilities for your colleagues to understand why the mission. It's like the mission is. And how to do with the mission over time and why the vision is like the vision is based on history and where we want to go. You need to mutually. Have gatherings where you discuss things based on, for example, the core values or the mission. And then you need to sort of more and more over time safeguard and nurture that it actually becomes a natural part of the culture. And then one more thing, you shouldn't be afraid to change it over time. You must remember that it might be that you were not right from the beginning, that you miss some logic, or you miss some sort of buy-in or the world changes, the industry changes, the company changes, the owner change or whatever it is. So, so you can't do this document once. You must at least review it yearly and evolve it step by step.

AE: [00:12:36] You started off by saying that all companies need to define what it means for them, for example. And what's a good approach to gather those definitions so that everyone knows what it means?

AB: [00:12:51] In our case, usually, it's with a smaller group, with a client to sit down, whether it's digitally or physically to let's say, for example, if it would be you and me, I would ask you, okay, Alexander, what's a vision for you? And then you tell whatever you tell. And then I tell all in my world that's an objective. And objective says enough other things, and then we discuss a bit. And then we try to phrase a garbage draft or a draft or an outline of the first version of it, perhaps before we meet with everyone that that should be in the sort of the main team and the same thing with, with everything. If you and I would do it, for a brand, we would definitely define the mission and the vision if it doesn't exist already. And, if we should change it, we still need to start with the definitions and then look at the existing vision that we're going to upgrade or evolve or whatever. And we will look at both the meaning of a position and core values, positioning statement, personality, because when we sit down if we can start by agreeing, okay, this is it, this is what we will use it for, and this further on this the next step, I think it's a clear advantage there. There are other ways of working with this. There are companies who think there's absolutely no difference between brand mission and brand vision or mission and vision. And there are companies that have a problem to see the difference between an objective and a purpose. But that's why I think it's important to clarify it. I think a mission, for example, is always task-based. What is the task that a company or a team, or a project or who ever have? I never think that missions can be anything but tasks.

AE: [00:14:57] And how do you find vision?

AB: [00:15:00] Usually, with a vision, it's the same discussion, someone saying, Yeah, but you have to think like a man on the moon. But then you need to read the full quote by former President Mr Kennedy. Because if I remember, I said, our goal is to put the man on the moon before the end of this decade or something like that. And that is clearly, for me, an objective. And so they did so. So I think. It doesn't have to be measurable; it needs to be achievable but doesn't have to be achieved. So something like that, tells how you shall be seen in a future business context. It might be pretty emotional, it might be futuristic, and it might be philosophical, but in my world, the discussion starts with okay, what should the vision be? I think it should tell how hoe we shall be seen?

AE: [00:16:11] Yeah. Well, great. I think that's it. Do you have any other tips related to definitions, vision, mission, and brand positioning?

AB: [00:16:29] One regarding definitions. I had a conversation the other day with a customer, and I started mentioning definitions, and she told me, Oh, we've done that so many times. Nobody reads it. But the point of having definitions is like being the secretary in a steering group. You decide what is true. So my recommendation is always to start by defining things and then what it is and then what to use them for. Because it's a huge advantage that, as we have spoken about many times in pod episodes, there are so many buzzwords. And most people use the buzzwords, but if they would go and get interrogated, what the difference is between vision and mission, or inbound and content marketing and blah, blah, blah. They will end up in different stories. So I would say ... Based on your question, define things. And a good start to defining things is to go to one source of truth. If you go to Google and you put digital definitions. And then you do space, and then you put zooma.agency, then you find a very, very updated version of digital definitions where you hopefully can find the definitions of what you and I have spoken about. If not, you and I are in a hurry and must add those things very, very quickly to keep our promises.

AE: [00:18:07] Yes, we will make sure that those are there when this is published. Anything you want to tell Jeff about the vision or mission? Do you think they do a good job?

AB: [00:18:20] And they do a very good job. And actually, if you would Google on Jeff's brand, you will find a couple of things on zooma.agency on the Onlinification Hub about his brand and how they formulate things. He's one of the few that knows the differences between the different phrasings; he

is top class. Well done, Jeff.

AE: [00:18:49] Sounds like all roads lead to some zooma.agency Onlinification Hub. So thank you very much.

AB: [00:18:58] And thank you, Alexander.

AE: [00:19:01] See you.

Alexander Evjenth
Alexander is a content creator who has a great interest in learning new things. What he enjoys even more is creating knowledge content.
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